Johnson County’s two newest green buildings for the Public Works Department’s complex in west Olathe are moving from the drawing board to the start of construction after more than two

An artist's rendering of Johnson County's new public works building.


years in planning.
The project will utilize many recycled and regional materials, and will also focus on construction waste management. It will use the earth in its heating and cooling system and the sun for light.
And, the Public Works facility is designed for future certification for green construction by the U.S. Green Building Council through its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, program.
A ceremony is scheduled at 9 a.m. Monday, May 16, at the department’s complex, 1800 West 56 Highway. The event will feature Ed Eilert, chairman of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners, operating a backhoe in breaking ground for the project with the board’s six district commissioners manning shovels.
Speakers at the ground-breaking ceremony will include:
• Chairman Eilert;
• Joe Waters, director of the Facilities Department;
• Ramin Cherafat of McCownGordon Construction, LLC, Kansas City, Mo., construction manager of  the project; and,
• John Gaar of 360 Architecture, Inc., Kansas City, Mo., designer of the new facility.
Emcee will be Mac Andrew, director of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, who said he is pleased to see the green project entering the construction phase.
“We’re going to see some real energy savings,” he said. “It’s a real common-sense way of using taxpayer dollars for something that’s needed for Johnson County government in providing road and other infrastructure needs vital to the Johnson County community.”
The project involves the construction of a 23,300-square-foot office/operations building and a 22,250-square-foot fleet maintenance building. The Board of Commissioners, in its role as the county’s Public Building Commission, has set the total project authorization at $14,560,000 and awarded an $11,506,199 contract to McCownGordon Construction to construct both buildings that were designed by 360 Architecture.
The project is expected to start by the end of May with completion in the first half of 2012. Full operations at the Public Works complex will continue during construction.
The building offers a grab bag of energy-saving technologies, including:
• A geo-exchange system utilizes the earth to greatly assist in heating and cooling the office/operations building.
• The main office area and training room is lit by natural light, which passes through insulated windows.
• Landscaping features keep rainwater on the site, where it is used to water vegetation rather than being diverted to storm sewers – that’s important to the Public Works Department since it also oversees the county’s Stormwater Management Program.
Each building will have a FEMA storm shelter to provide safety for the Public Works employees working at the complex.
The two salt domes, the bridge building, fuel island and some storage buildings will remain in their same locations. Once the work is completed, the existing combined 22,000-square-foot administration and fleet maintenance building, used since 1966, will be demolished and returned to natural green space.
The Public Works project is striving for LEED silver, perhaps gold, certification from the national Green Building Council. The LEED Green Building Rating System is the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high performance sustainable buildings
Johnson County now has two LEED-certified gold buildings – the Sunset Drive Office Building (2006) and the County Communications Center (2009), both at the County Government Complex at 119th Street and Ridgeview Road in Olathe.  The Sunset Drive Office Building was designed by 360 Architecture and built by McCownGordon Construction.
Two other projects were designated for LEED certification.  LEED Platinum certification is anticipated for the new Crime Lab along with the new Youth and Family Services Center. Both projects would be the first LEED Platinum facilities, if certified, in Johnson County to receive the highest rating a building can achieve under the council’s rating system.
The Crime Lab, which is being built adjacent to the County Communications Center, is scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2012. The facility is operated by the Sheriff’s Office.
Construction of the Youth and Family Services Center is nearing an end with operations to start in June and a dedication to occur in July.
The facility is part of the Corrections Department.
About the project
Start of construction: May 2011
Completion dates: Last quarter of 2011 for fleet building, first quarter of 2012 for administration/operations building.
Builder: McCownGordon Construction, Kansas City, Mo.
Architect: 360 Architecture, Kansas City, Mo.
Size of project:
Fleet building: Approximately 22,250 square feet
Administration/operations building : Approximately 22,300 square feet
Total project authorization: $14,560,000, including an $11,506,199 contract with McCownGordon Construction to build both buildings.
About Public Works
The Johnson County Department of Public Works and Infrastructure is responsible for improvements and maintenance of more than 460 miles of roadways, both gravel and paved, and 118 bridges in the rural/unincorporated areas of Johnson County.
The department also oversees the annual County Assistance Road System (CARS) and Stormwater Management programs. The 2011 CARS program is providing $12,930,000 for 11 new road projects in 11 cities. The 2011 Stormwater Management Program is set at $15,277,500, including $11.3 million for 12 design/construction projects in seven cities and approximately $3.1 million for flood mitigation and proactive efforts.
The history of the department began in 1931 when the county purchased land for the east quarry and land for a second quarry in 1952. The county acquired land for the present Public Works complex in 1965. Six years later, townships turned over road responsibilities to the county, leading to creation of the Public Works Department in 1984.
The department has 90 employees.